Sunday, February 2, 2014

Beth Bentley - missing 193 weeks - Life Insurance?

This question was posted on the Facebook page titled "Missing Beth Bentley" on Sunday, January 26, 2013, at 11:55AM by the page administrator:

"Mystery of Beth Bentley Missing Why isn't the family doing anything? Have they known where she is all along? Her life insurance can be claimed after 7 years? Some say her life insurance is worth 2 million dollars!"

I was in the life insurance business for 18 years, and I can assure you that no company I was ever with would have insured Beth for $2,000,000, or even for $1,000,000. The  Woodstock Police ought to know whether there was any life insurance on Beth and the details of any policy(ies).

Reputable life insurance companies examine the "worth" of the person to be insured, and the wildest guess would not set the value at $1,000,000.

Who was the purchaser? Did Beth take any policy out on herself; i.e., was she the applicant and owner? Sometimes, one spouse applies as owner of a policy on the other spouse, but it cannot be done without the knowledge and consent of the person whose life is to be insured. There must be "insurable interest". That's the insurance company's jargon for who can buy insurance on someone else; in other words, who will suffer a financial loss if the insured dies?

In marital situations, when insurance is purchased on the wife, it is the husband who might suffer a financial loss. Just like a wife might buy insurance on her husband. More often, it is the insured who buys the policy and owns it - and, importantly, names the beneficiary. 

In the case of "Wife" insurance, the insurance company will look at these factors:

Is there a minor child in the home who would need childcare?
Are there debts the family would like paid, if Mom died?
How much might medical bills, funeral and burial cost?
Does the mom wish to provide educational expenses for children?
Are there estate taxes or other estate administration expenses to be paid?
What would the family lose, if the mom's income stopped? 
And then you calculate the present value of those lost future earnings.

Was there a $1,000,000 policy, possibly with $1,000,000 of Accidental Death Benefit? That, under some circumstances, might result in a total pay-out of $2,000,000.

The insurance company isn't just going to write a check and send a note that reads, "Sorry." In this case, they'd be stupid to do that. There are too many loose ends in this case.

When a policy with an extraordinary death benefit is settled, the insurance companies often demonstrate their willingness to pay by making payment to the State or a court and asking the State (or court) to determine whether the amount should rightfully be paid and, if so, to whom.

If there was a policy with an extraordinary death benefit amount, the insurance company, its investigators and the police ought to be looking into all the circumstances of the sale and the purchase of the policy. Was the salesman just out making sales calls and happened to luck into a big sale? Was the salesman approached? By whom? How long before Beth vanished was any large policy applied for and issued? What relationship was there, if any, between the salesman and any party to the policy? What type of policy was purchased? Term insurance? How were premiums paid (annually? monthly?)

Have signatures on the application and the medical examination form been compared carefully? Is the medical examiner certain that he examined Beth, rather than possibly someone who resembled her? Did Beth ever tell anyone that she was applying for a large policy (or that one was to be issued on her)? Was Beth the applicant and owner? Who was the beneficiary? Who paid the premiums?

So many questions ... so few answers.

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